The Other McCain

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Virginia Town’s Airport Is Collateral Damage in Obama’s ‘War on Coal’

Posted on | October 18, 2012 | 19 Comments

“The front page of Thursday’s Washington Times features a story about how the Obama administration’s ‘war on coal’ has thwarted plans by the tiny Appalachian town of Grundy to expand its airport. The hostile regulatory climate imposed by the president’s environmental agenda has been a steady theme of Romney’s stump speeches. The coal issue also resonates in Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania, which RCP likewise counts as a battleground state. Coal-industry advocates in Grundy are planning a rally Sunday, and their story could help dramatize the economic costs of the administration’s anti-coal policies.”
Robert Stacy McCain, “Obama’s Hope Fades in Virginia,” The American Spectator, Oct. 18, 2012

The population of Grundy, Virginia, is 1,105. It is the county seat of Buchanan County, population 23,581, where the median household income is $29,183, far below the U.S. median average of $51,914. This community, about 10 miles from the Kentucky border and 15 miles from the West Virginia state line, is quite obviously in need of economic growth — so why is the Obama administration standing in the way?

Officials from two Southwestern Virginia counties say a project vital to the area’s economic development has been held up for years because of a dispute with federal regulators over what is an airport and what is a coal mine.
Local leaders say the three-year battle with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining over plans to extend the runway at Grundy Municipal Airport has cost taxpayers in this poverty-stricken corner of Appalachia millions of dollars in lost opportunities, and a list of regulatory hurdles remains before construction can even begin.
“We were attempting to permit this project as an airport project, not a coal-mining project,” said state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat from Lebanon who has been involved for three years with the effort to lengthen the runway from 2,200 feet to more than 5,000 feet — the length needed to comply with insurance standards for corporate jets. The holdup: Federal regulators have refused to allow the runway project to go forward without a mining permit because of the coal deposits below the land that will be dug up during construction.
“That’s where the permitting process got caught up — in determining whether it was an airport project or a mining project, by the Office of Surface Mining in Washington,” Mr. Puckett said. “We’ve tried to resolve that with them for the last couple of years. We’ve had very little success.”
Regulators contend that a mining permit is needed because local authorities plan to sell the coal dug up in extending the runway to help finance the overall project. . . .

Read the whole thing at the Washington Times. People everywhere should be outraged by this: A poor Appalachian town’s best prospect for promoting economic development held up for three years because the radical environmentalists appointed by President Obama are determined to destroy the coal industry. (See my Oct. 8 column, “Counting on Coal Country,” for more background on Obama’s “war on coal.”)

The federal Office of Surface Mining might as well be re-named the Office of Abolishing Surface Mining under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who, as Michelle Malkin has detailed at length, is a top enforcer of Obama’s environmental agenda.

Grundy is 53 miles from I-81, but it’s a winding two-lane mountain road so it takes an hour and a half to drive it, which tends to discourage potential business investors from visiting the town. If the town could extend its airport runway, executives could fly in and out, and light commercial aviation might even help promote tourism. (“Ski Grundy,” perhaps?) But no — the project would involve coal mining, and the Fanatic-in-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is beholden to tree-hugging freaks, so he cheerfuly pisses away millions of taxpayer dollars on bankrupt “green energy” boondoggles, while his bureaucrats crush hope for the people of Grundy.

In the War on Coal – It’s Grundy vs. Obama
Matt Vespa, Hot Air Greenroom

Why Does Obama Hate Coal Miners And Appalachia?
The Lonely Conservative

Grundy will have a rally Sunday to show “support for American coal jobs and the people who work in our industry.”

If the Romney campaign would grab hold of this issue, they could make America understand how Obama’s “war on coal” is hurting real people and hindering economic recovery.

 


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Comments

  • Pingback: Why Does Obama Hate Coal Miners And Appalachia? – Updated | The Lonely Conservative

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Well done.

  • JeffS

    An excellent write up, Stacy, demonstrative of just how intrusive the Federal government is.

    And any Federal agency with even a hint of an environmental authority has activists within its ranks. Even at the helm. Check out the National Marine Fisheries Service sometime, and their effect on private property.

  • Adobe_Walls

    And yet people are aghast when I assert that we should abolish the EPA as well as many other Departments and agencies. Drumheads to the wall for many minions may be required.

  • tombeebe

    There’s a half-completed shopping mall in Norton, Va, not far away, with the same problem. I’m no Obama lover, but this sort of ignorance even predates him.

  • Pingback: Hey, There Are All Sorts of Reasons to Vote Against Obama | Daily Pundit

  • landru

    Actually, tourism is a definite prospect in that area if accessibility were better. Not far from Grundy is Breaks Interstate Park, the longest and deepest canyon east of the Mississippi. Spectacular place, but it takes forever to get there.

  • Pingback: Who Ever Heard of a Coal-Fired Airport? | hogewash

  • ThomasD

    You simply cannot dig 10 feet down in that region of the country without hitting some coal.

    If the people of SW VA would stop electing Democrat politicians that might be a good first step. A ‘friend of coal’ democrat being about as useful as a ‘pro-life’ or ‘free market’ democrat.

    If they also learned to recognize that the UMW is all about the union, and not about the union members that might be a good thing too.

    BTW the UMW has been solving the ‘disappearing mining jobs’ problem by taking over the unionization of healthcare workers. I haven’t seen actual figures but would not be surprised if the majority of members have never actually set foot on any mine operation (unless they were bringing a family member his lunch pail.)

    FTR, I work in Grundy one or two days every month, and drive that 53 miles of road every time. Grundy, like most other communities of SW VA, is attempting to make up for the lost tax base by handing out traffic tickets by the bushel. So anyone traveling through the region beware.

  • ThomasD

    The Russell Fork flows through The Breaks, and is a major whitewater destination every fall when they release large flows from a dam upstream. Difficult access and a lack of decent services/accomodations nearby are a major limiting factor to attracting more boaters.

    The Coalfields Expressway when (if) completed will go along way towards solving that.

    VA plans to re-introduce elk into that region as well, which will certainly bring in more tourism as well. Remediated surface mines have proved excellent habit for the elk herd over in Kentucky.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bcostin Bryan Costin

    Accessibility, indeed. And if it’s this much trouble to extend a runway a paltry few thousand feet, imagine the obstructionism you’d have to overcome before you could do the road construction.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bcostin Bryan Costin

    It’s part of NOAA, which is one of the worst offenders. Agency mission creep, intentionally vague regulations, no oversight, and arbitrary, heavy-handed enforcement.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    If Romney’s first official act were to line up every single EPA bureaucrat in a policy-making position and have them shot, it would send the right message. We need to amend and/or repeal most “environmental” legislation – including the Endangered Species Act, which has sacrificed most of California’s Central Valley, a garden spot of the world, to the fate of a darter fish.

    You may remember one relative of this fish, the snail darter, shut down a major project in Tennessee a few decades back – until they found the darn things are actually all over the place. There are some 15 species of this one-inch fish which serves no known purpose in the food chain, none of which can be distinguished from the others – for most, even experts need a DNA sample. Yet one species is “endangered,” so we shut down agriculture. It’s freaking insane.

  • Wombat_socho

    Is that the one that got flooded out halfway through the buildout?

  • http://twitter.com/myssissippi Melissa

    I live near Grundy, VA. What it reminds of that you would know is the Seam from the Hunger Games. The people there hunt to get meat for the year or at least the winter, grow gardens and can their own produce. Pay the doctors they see here in Kingsport TN $5/mo if they have to, but they pay their bills.

    There is nothing there but coal mines, the Buchanan County Courthouse, that tiny airport and the Appalachian School of Law. (You read that right, a law school – one where students used their own weapons to apprehend the man who shot a professor.) The dads work in the mines hoping that someday their sons won’t have to. And now that they want to do something to attract other jobs, Obama and his EPA are stopping them. That reminds me of the Hunger Games too.

  • http://twitter.com/myssissippi Melissa

    They are getting there, Thomas. They kicked out Boucher in the 2010 election and voted McCain too. You are right about the coal and the tickets, but it’s still a gorgeous drive this time of year.

  • JeffS

    Yup, but NMFS is spearheading the charge.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Godspeed.

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